Buying used has become the new, well, new. After all, who doesn’t want to save a few bucks? But some previously owned items could require costly repairs down the line or even pose safety risks. Here are seven items you should never buy used.
On the topic of safety, let’s start with helmets. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends buying a new helmet after any crash, which means that used helmet you’ve got your eye on may no longer be suitable. It may look fine, but the thick layer of interior foam that’s meant to absorb shock can break or tear and fail to protect you. So play it safe and buy a quality new helmet starting at $20.
Next, do you really know what happened to that used laptop you’re about to buy off Craigslist? Don’t forget because of their portability, laptops are prone to spills, drops, and wear and tear. Plus, important parts—like the motherboard—could go kaput at any time. So skip used and consider buying new from a national retailer, starting as low as $300. One exception is a refurbished laptop that comes with a warranty from the manufacturer.
Need some software to go with your refurbished computer? Beware of buying used here, as well. Software manufacturers usually place a limit on the number of times the program or application can be loaded. And when purchasing, you’ll have no idea how many times the authorization code has been entered. You could end up with a copy of Microsoft Office or Photoshop that’s better used as a doorstop.
Sticking with electronics, HDTVs are a must-have for homes these days.
But if you think you’re getting a bargain on a used flat screen, think again. Today’s technology is so advanced, that fixing or replacing parts for an HD screen can sometimes cost as much as the TV itself. According to researchers at DealNews.com, you can find deals on 55-inch to 60-inch flat screens for roughly $700.
Next, outfitting your car with tires can be expensive, but don’t be tempted to buy used. While a tire’s age is one consideration, how it was maintained is even more important.
“Some of the things that contribute to tire wear are proper maintenance of it, so if you don’t maintain the air pressure properly, that could cause wear,” says Ron Montoya, consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “If you just have a spare tire sitting in your trunk, that’s going to cause wear too, even if it’s not being used.”
Best just to buy new, starting at $40 each.
6. Car Seat
Now, what about your car’s most precious cargo? A parent’s number one concern is a baby’s safety, but with so much gear to buy, it may seem like a bargain to purchase a used car seat or accept a family member’s hand-me-down. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says car seats can be reused even if they’ve been in minor crashes, but what’s a “minor” crash? The car seat could have sustained damage that’s not visible to the untrained eye.
Finally, steer clear of used bedding, including mattresses, pillows and even sheets and comforters. After all, you could bring home unwelcome guests, like mold, mites, bacteria and bed bugs. Don’t think bed bugs are limited to New York, either. Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Denver and Cincinnati had the worst infestations in the U.S last year. A new mattress should last you about a decade, and you can find one starting at $300.
What are some items you avoid buying used? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.